In Defense of the Sound Man
Not long ago I wrote a blog that seem to bless most readers and even entertain a few. The gist of it was that we should not show favoritism. I was at a conference speaking and I needed a charger for my iPhone and iPad. I asked the soundman and he basically blew me off. However when he realized I was a speaker at the event, he suddenly had time for me.
The point of the blog was to encourage all of us not to show favoritism—if he didn’t have time for me before he knew I was a speaker, he should not had time for me after he found out.
Despite all the encouraging responses, I received two that I felt I should address. The first came from someone concerned that my blog had humiliated the soundman, were he to see it. This was a valid concern coming from someone who clearly has a heart of mercy. I certainly would not want the whole world to know of my mistakes.
However I assured her, and I want to assure you, that I changed the story just enough so that no one would identify the young man. Secondly, it happened in a non-English speaking country, so I was relatively sure the soundman would never see the blog. I should have made that clear in the blog, so others concerned for his feelings, would know that he would not see it, and anyone there would not be able to put the dots together.
The other comment I got was from a young man who was both a former student from BRSM and a former soundman. He explained that once the fellow realized I was a speaker, it then became his job to assist me. In other words, the easy thing for him to do would have been to say, “Okay…this gringo will be out of my life in 12 hours. I will simply pretend none of this ever happened and I will probably never see him again.”
However, instead, knowing it would make him look like he was showing favoritism, he did his job, which was to make sure, from a technical point of view, that the speaker had everything he needed. As my friend said, “Being a former sound guy you become pretty good at telling people ‘no’ who approach your booth with ‘can I get a copy of that?’ or ‘Can you turn it down a little?’ or ‘How many dbs you pushin’ bro?’” His priority was the conference, not running down chargers for participants.
The fact that he humbled himself and got me a charger when he realized I was his priority, speaks well of him. Sadly, he won’t see this blog either. But still, here’s to the soundmen who take more grief than anyone when things go wrong and receive less praise than anyone when things go well.
Another former student of mine told me how embarrassing it was when, in front of, sometimes a few thousand people, the pastor would stop his message and point out mistakes (or what he thought were mistakes) in the sound. Let’s all make it our priority the next time we are in our congregations to let the soundman know how grateful we are for him. Without him, the preacher has no voice.